Friday 29 February 2008

Caught In A Number Crunch

When an AHL team can acquire a bonafide NHL player for their run towards the playoffs, you'd have to think that they would jump at it. When that player is a player who has played for the team before, you know whether or not you're getting quality. In sticking with this theme, the Manitoba Moose acquired defenceman Nolan Baumgartner on loan from the Dallas Stars via the Iowa Stars for their playoff run. Baumgartner may not seem like a marquee name in NHL circles, but he is a stud in the AHL circuit.

Nolan Baumgartner starred with the Moose from 2003 to 2005 where he honed his skills enough that he played in 70 games with the Vancouver Canucks in 2005-06. Teams lined up to sign the free agent after the 05-06 season ended, and Baumgartner left the Vancouver Canucks to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers for a two-year deal worth $2.4 million. The only problem was that the Flyers sent him down to their AHL club in the Phantoms, and couldn't recall him with the waiver rules. How many NHL teams would pass up a quality, young defenceman for $600,000 on the re-entry waiver?

The Dallas Stars claimed Baumgartner off waivers from the Flyers on February 27, 2007, and Baumgartner played in seven games before being shuffled off to Dallas' AHL team in Iowa. Again, he was not recalled due to that re-entry waiver rule. Baumgartner was not on Iowa's active roster when the roster freeze came this season, so the Stars offered him up to Manitoba on loan.

Clearly, Baumgartner's contract has worked against him. However, this could be a second chance for Vancouver to correct the mistake they made when they didn't sign him. He becomes a free agent in this upcoming off-season, and teams will be looking for quality, young defencemen.

However, the move by the Moose is what is more intriguing. This move could be described as player-for-cash deal. The Moose didn't make a trade to get him, and they would have had to have sweetened the deal with something. We're talking about the Moose re-acquiring their former captain and a two-time AHL all-star. This is like acquiring Ray Bourque or Niklas Lidstrom if you want to compare it to the NHL. How did the Moose pull off this larceny?

As Randy Turner from the Winnipeg Free Press wrote: "[Moose GM Craig] Heisinger wasn't about to cough up the exact cost of Baumgartner to the Moose. Regardless, fans would be encouraged to know that Moose president Mark Chipman will bring out the chequebook if he believes spending some extra coin will strengthen the club down the stretch and into the playoffs."

The Moose are clearly on a different level than some of the other AHL teams. The owner, Mark Chipman, and the GM, Craig Heisinger, have some autonomy in terms of the personnel they bring in due to their relationship with the Canucks. Had this been Lowell or Quad City, the NHL affiliate may have balked at a deal like this due to wanting their prospects in the lineup for their AHL team. The Moose, however, have the ability to fill up to six roster spots with players of their own choosing. This is the deal that was worked out with the Moose, and it clearly has worked in both clubs' favors.

I commend Mr. Chipman and Mr. Heisinger for bringing in a quality NHL defenceman who will be able to step in on the top line and make things happen. The Moose are currently in a dogfight (excuse the pun) with the Hamilton Bulldogs for second place in the North Division. Adding a player of Baumgartner's quality will certainly make the Moose a stronger and more formidable foe in this fight, and in the playoffs.

You have to love the AHL. There's no other league on the planet where a transaction like this would happen.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 28 February 2008

Instant Karma

There have been lots of times where the term "Instant Karma" could hold true in life. I don't know if John Lennon was a hockey fan, but instant karma seems to hold true in the NHL. Call it what you like - "getting the last laugh", "just desserts", whatever - but there have been several incidents where John Lennon's lyrics have held true. Lennon sang "Instant karma's gonna get you/Gonna knock you right on the head/You better get yourself together/Pretty soon you're gonna be dead", and watching these highlights should give you a sense of why being a hockey fan is so good. You're not just watching the action, you're sometimes part of it. And instant karma suggests that we might just be better off watching the game than being part of it.

Example A: NHL fans are not NHL enforcers. For the most part, we have little training in how to hockey fight, and, for the most part, it's a good idea to never challenge 22 players on the bench. Especially if Rob Ray is one of them.

This fan took a beating at the hands of Rob Ray.

Example B: I've heard the stories about how brutal the fans in Philadelphia can be. Tie Domi must have heard them as well. Domi had a little fun in spraying water at an irate fan, and then pummeled the guy after he fell into the penalty box.

The guy gets jerseyed and then hammered by Domi.

Example C: The Big Bad Boston Bruins always had a mean streak to them, so annoying them was like poking a big dog with a short stick. In this case, a New York Rangers' fan steals Terry O'Reilly's stick. Chaos ensues. As a fan, why would you do something as stupid as this?

Milbury hits a fan with a shoe. The Rangers watch in awe of the Bruins.

Example D: Taunting a player after he gets hurt only means you're due for some embarassment. A Colorado Avalanche fan taunts Chicago's Steve Sullivan. I think this is what is known as a "last laugh".

All I need is Nelson's laugh from The Simpsons.

Classic highlights right there. Look, if you're a hockey fan, I have three pieces of advice for you. 1) Cheer on your team. 2) Drink less beer. 3) Stay outside of the glass and off the ice.

As for the last guy in those highlights, keep your eye on the puck, and you can enjoy the taunts all you want. Good on Steve Sullivan for having a little fun with that guy. That was too funny. Enjoy hockey, folks. Just don't be stupid.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 26 February 2008

The NHL Flea Market

The NHL held its biggest day of salary purging and personnel changes today, and there were some surprises along the way. Yes, the NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and what we're left with could change some teams' fortunes for seasons to come. Big names were moved. Character players changed teams. Goaltenders were shuffled like cards. Draft picks were exchanged frequently and without prejudice. While the number of trades and players involved were not as plentiful as in years past, there were still some eyebrow-raising deals made, as well as some name that were rumoured to be on the move who stayed put. Here's a breakdown of what each team did on Trade Deadline Day.

Acquired: G Jean-Sebastien Aubin, D Marc-Andre Bergeron, D Jay Leach, future considerations (NAS).
Gone: F Brandon Bochenski, F Brandon Segal, 2008 3rd-round and 7th-round picks.
Teebz: Bergeron will give them another powerplay quarterback. Aubin will allow Hiller to return to the AHL for more development. Leach strengthens the defensive unit.

Acquired: F Joe Motzko, F Angelo Esposito, F Erik Christensen, F Colby Armstrong, 2008 1st-round pick.
Gone: F Alexandre Giroux, F Marian Hossa, F Pascal Dupuis.
Teebz: The jury is out on Esposito still, but Christensen and Armstrong will provide some good character on a Thrashers team sorely needing some. Motzko has shown flashes of brilliance with Washington, and will fit nicely on a third line in Atlanta. Of course, that first-round pick will give Atlanta another prospect.

No moves made on Trade Deadline Day.
Teebz: Why? For a team that could sorely use a first-line centerman to replace and compliment Patrice Bergeron until he gets back into the lineup, this team could have used an Olli Jokinen.

Acquired: F Steve Bernier, 2008 1st-round pick.
Gone: D Brian Campbell, 2008 7th-round pick.
Teebz: Buffalo was a seller, but get a quality young forward in Bernier back. Buffalo has done pretty good with draft picks as well, so that first-round pick will come in handy.

No moves made on Trade Deadline Day.
Teebz: For a team that was thought to be a front-runner in the Olli Jokinen sweepstakes, they make no moves. I thought that Calgary might go after a big-framed defenceman such as Hal Gill to wear down teams in the playoffs, but that was not the case.

Acquired: F Tuomo Ruutu.
Gone: F Andrew Ladd.
Teebz: This swap was underachiever for underachiever. Ladd did contribute in Carolina's Stanley Cup run, but did little since. Perhaps a change of scenery will re-ignite both men's careers.

Acquired: F Andrew Ladd, 2008 6th-round pick.
Gone: F Tuomo Ruutu, F Martin Lapointe.
Teebz: Chicago is always a seller, and yet always they sell little to nothing on Deadline Day. They didn't get any better after today, but didn't get any worse either. Status quo in Chi-town.

Acquired: D Adam Foote, D Ruslan Salei.
Gone: D Karlis Skrastins, 2008/09 conditional 1st-round pick, 2008 3rd-round and 4th-round picks.
Teebz: Colorado bulks up their back-end as they stated in their Deadline Day plans. Foote will provide steady play and leadership while Salei brings some grittiness to Colorado's defence unit.

Acquired: D Theo Ruth, 2008/09 conditional 1st-round pick, 2008 4th-round pick.
Gone: F Sergei Fedorov, D Adam Foote.
Teebz: Columbus' GM Scott Howson might take some heat over these deals, but these deals will allow the Blue Jackets to get younger. Howson has never been afraid to build through the draft, and looks comfortable with that strategy.

Acquired: F Brad Richards, G Johan Holmqvist.
Gone: G Mike Smith, F Jussi Jokinen, F Jeff Halpern, 2008 4th-round pick.
Teebz: Dallas acquires one of the marquee names at the deadline in Richards. The scary part is that the Stars have 14 players under contract next season for approximately $45 million, and that includes Richards' huge salary. Now that's cap management, and the Stars are looking for a deep playoff run this year.

Acquired: D Brad Stuart.
Gone: 2008 2nd-round pick, 2009 4th-round pick.
Teebz: Ken Holland obviously thinks his team has the right tools to go deep in the playoffs. By adding Stuart, the defensive six get deeper in talent. With Detroit having several players returning from injuries, Stuart should help them as a #3 or #4 defenceman.

No moves made on Trade Deadline Day.
Teebz: Lowe was reportedly interested in Hossa, but, like their provincial rivals, the Oilers did nothing. Roloson was reportedly on the block, but he'll continue to play second fiddle to Mathieu Garon.

Acquired: D Wade Belak, F Chad Kilger, D Karlis Skrastins, 2008 3rd-round pick.
Gone: D Ruslan Salei, 2008 3rd-round and 5th-round picks.
Teebz: Belak and Kilger? Doesn't Florida have enough useless baggage on their team already? Skrastins will at least be a stay-at-home defenceman, something Vokoun won't recognize.

Acquired: 2008 2nd-round and 7th-round picks, 2009 4th-round pick.
Gone: G Jean-Sebastien Aubin, D Brad Stuart.
Teebz: Ok, that's like 200 draft picks over the next two years for the Kings. Seriously, what's with stockpiling picks? Trading away a defenceman who was proving his worth is always a great idea when trying to secure the #1 overall pick. Thanks for mailing in the season, Lombardi.

Acquired: F Chris Simon.
Gone: 2008 6th-round pick.
Teebz: Could Doug Risebrough not get the Hanson Brothers in a trade? This trade was made purely due to last year's playoffs where the Anaheim Ducks literally beat the hell out of Minnesota in their series. Now, the Wild have Derek Boogaard, Todd Fedoruk, and Chris Simon in their lineup. Where's Ogie Oglethorpe?

Acquired: 2009 2nd-round pick.
Gone: G Cristobal Huet.
Teebz: Shocking? Yes. Gainey has basically made it clear that the Habs will live and die with 20 year-old goalie Carey Price. It should also be noted that the Canadiens didn't get Marian Hossa. I'm sure that Habs fans aren't the happiest group right now.

Acquired: F Brandon Bochenski, F Jan Hlavac.
Gone: 2008 7th-round pick, future considerations (ANA).
Teebz: For a team that made the biggest splash at the deadline last season in getting Peter Forsberg, the Predators opted to add a few character guys this season. Perhaps the Predators learned from their mistakes from a year ago.

Acquired: D Bryce Salvador.
Gone: F Cam Janssen.
Teebz: Trader Lou made the first deal today, and then was quiet. Salvador will eat up minutes for the Devils with playing steady hockey. Maybe Lou is planning something bigger? Brent Sutter might not be safe after all.

Acquired: D Rob Davison, 2008 3rd-round and 6th-round picks.
Gone: F Chris Simon, D Marc-Andre Bergeron, 2008 7th-round pick.
Teebz: Aside from losing the guy who is leading the league in number of days suspended, the Islanders practically did nothing. Is GM Garth Snow content with his team who are currently out of a playoff spot?

Acquired: F Fredrik Sjostrom, F Josh Gratton, D Christian Backman, G David Leneveu.
Gone: F Marcel Hossa, G Al Montoya, 2008 4th-round pick.
Teebz: These moves seem like a wash. The Rangers get no better, but no worse. Backman is an average puck-moving defenceman, and, with Boyle being off the market, the Rangers really had no other options to look at.

Acquired: F Martin Lapointe.
Gone: 2008 6th-round pick.
Teebz: This move was made to increase the leadership inside a tense locker room. It could also be reasoned that Lapointe will be placed into Chris Neil's role with Neil sidelined by a knee injury. Perhaps the knee is worse than originally thought?

No moves made on Trade Deadline Day.
Teebz: Having acquired Vaclav Prospel and Jaroslav Modry before Deadline Day, it was easy to see that Philadelphia wouldn't be making many more moves. It was rumoured that Philly was interested in Dan Boyle, but he was taken off the market when he signed an extension with Tampa Bay.

Acquired: F Marcel Hossa, G Al Montoya.
Gone: F Fredrik Sjostrom, F Josh Gratton, G David Leneveu.
Teebz: No better, but no worse. Phoenix's status quo is probably for the best as they've been on a major tear recently. Hossa may add some scoring punch, but that's a stretch at best with his recent play.

Acquired: F Marian Hossa, F Pascal Dupuis, D Hal Gill.
Gone: F Angelo Esposito, F Erik Christensen, F Colby Armstrong, 2008 1st-round and 2nd-round picks, 2009 5th-round pick.
Teebz: The Penguins came out of nowhere to grab a marquee name in Hossa today. Hossa will certainly help the Penguins in goal scoring, and is defensively sound as a forward. Dupuis will fill a third-line role, and do some PK work. Hal Gill will make life hell for opposing forwards with his big body. If the Penguins can re-sign Hossa, the amount they gave up to get him might seem like pennies.

Acquired: D Brian Campbell, 2008 7th-round pick.
Gone: D Rob Davison, F Steve Bernier, 2008 1st-round pick.
Teebz: GM Doug Murray got his man in Brian Campbell. If Campbell can provide the offensive spark from the back-end like he did in Buffalo, the Sharks could become a legitimate Stanley Cup threat.

Acquired: F Cam Janssen, 2008 4th-round pick.
Gone: D Bryce Salvador, D Christian Backman.
Teebz: The Blues give up a couple of decent defencemen. With Janssen in the lineup, though, the Blues have a legitimate tough guy who can battle the other heavyweights in the NHL.

Acquired: G Mike Smith, F Jussi Jokinen, F Jeff Halpern, F Brandon Segal, 2008 4th-round and two 7th-round picks.
Gone: F Jan Hlavac, F Brad Richards, D Jay Leach, G Johan Holmqvist.
Teebz: The Lightning shed an albatross contract in Richards, and get to start building their team back into contention. Having Mike Smith in the net is a good start as he was solid with Dallas.

Acquired: 2008 2nd-round, 3rd-round, and 5th-round picks, 2009 5th-round pick.
Gone: D Wade Belak, D Hal Gill, F Chad Kilger.
Teebz: I hope other GMs were watching how no-trade clauses can destroy a team. Fletcher will begin to rebuild this team through the draft, but they are at least 4-to-5 years away from respectability.

Acquired: F Matt Pettinger.
Gone: F Matt Cooke.
Teebz: GM Dave Nonis didn't get a top-6 forward for his team, so he had better hope that Pettinger will score 20 goals over the last four weeks of the season. Otherwise, the Canucks enter the playoffs with the same problem they had last season: scoring goals.

Acquired: F Matt Cooke, F Alexandre Giroux, F Sergei Fedorov, G Cristobal Huet.
Gone: F Matt Pettinger, F Joe Motzko, D Theo Ruth, 2009 2nd-round pick.
Teebz: It appears that Washington is preparing for two things: (a) a run at the Southeast Division title, and (b) free agency. Huet's and Fedorov's contracts both expire meaning the Capitals can sign other free agents due to no salary cap implications. Huet, meanwhile, will provide solid goaltending with Kolzig, and Fedorov will provide leadership in the room with his Russian teammates in Kozlov, Semin, and Ovechkin.

Ok, so that's all of them. I was surprised that Olli Jokinen didn't get moved, but that would basically be moving all of Florida's offensive abilities in one move, which would basically kill the franchise.

Congrats to San Jose, Dallas, and Pittsburgh for making the biggest splashes today. Now it's time to watch hockey gear up for the playoffs, and to see if these trades pan out to be excellent deals or colossal mistakes.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday 25 February 2008

Sledging Along

A big congratulations goes out today to the Canadian National Men's Sledge Hockey Team who defeated the USA in a warm-up three-game series over the weekend by a 2-1 margin. The warm-up was to prepare for the upcoming World Sledge Hockey Championships at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Massachusetts at the end of March. Both teams will be participating in the A-pool at the World Championships, with the USA looking to win gold for the first time at the Worlds. Canada will be looking to win their second gold medal at the World Championships.

Game One went to the Americans who handed the Canadians their second loss in 11 games thus far this season. Canadian star Billy Bridges opened the scoring 86 seconds into the game on a pass from Greg Westlake. Taylor Lipsett responded for Team USA with 1:16 left in the first to tie the game at one goal apiece. The two clubs battled through the next two periods and overtime deadlocked at one, thanks to key saves made by Canadian goalie Paul Rosen and American goalie Steve Cash. In the shootout, American Alexi Salamone scored the winner to give Team USA a 2-1 shootout win, and a 1-0 advantage in the series.

Game Two saw the two teams battle in another tight match. The first period saw the two teams battle to a 0-0 tie, with Canada holding the edge in shots by a 7-4 margin. The second period saw Bradley Bowden open the scoring for the Canadians as he beat Steve Cash four minutes into the middle frame. Todd Nicholson extended the lead for Canada two minutes later with his goal. Derek Whitson scored his first national team goal early in the third period to give the Canadians a commanding 3-0 lead. The Americans battled back to break Benoît St-Amand's shutout with Taylor Chace recording the goal at the midway point of the third. The Americans moved within a goal when Alexi Salamone scored at the 11:47 mark to make it 3-2 Canada, but the Canadian defence held strong the rest of the way to even the series at one game apiece.

The Game Three rubber match started the same as the previous two games did with Canada scoring first. Graeme Murray converted a Mark Noot pass into a goal as he beat American goaltender Mike Blabac nine minutes into the first period. Dany Verner made it 2-0 at 9:41 of the second period on an unassisted effort. Billy Bridges scored his tenth goal of the season three minutes later with Bradley Bowden picking up the assist. Bridges notched his second of the game and eleventh of the season 51 seconds into the third on a pass from Greg Westlake. Canada rounded out the scoring on a powerplay goal by Bowden, with assists going to Westlake and Bridges. Benoît St-Amand made 14 saves in the game to secure the 5-0 shutout of the Americans.

The Canadians push their record to 11-2 this season and have yet to lose in regulation. Along with the USA and Canada, the other A-pool teams at the World Championships include Germany, Italy, Japan, and sledge hockey powerhouse Norway. You can find the full schedule here of all the games being played.

Good luck to all the teams at the World Championships! For more information on Sledge Hockey, please check out Sledge Hockey Dad or the Sledge Hockey Wikipedia page. These are great resources.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday 24 February 2008

How It's Made - Part Three

Continuing a series I had started in 2007, I thought it would be wise if I brought some more equipment info to the forefront. The amount of work that goes into creating hockey equipment is immense, and these articles were meant to bring highlight the science and work that goes into making equipment.

Part One shows how pucks, hockey gloves, and wooden sticks are made. Part Two shows how goalie pads and composite sticks are made, and how to relace a goalie glove. Check these out if you like.

Today, I present more hockey equipment being made in front of your eyes.

Hockey Skates

Hockey Rink

We may take some of this stuff for granted when we walk into an arena, but clearly there is a lot of work that goes into making this game so great. Hockey Blog In Canada salutes all those that work behind-the-scenes to make hockey such a great game! I plan on continuing more of these looks into the behind-the-scenes stuff, so watch for more of these.

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 23 February 2008

You're Wearing That? - Part Five

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend thus far. I've decided to post another collection of jerseys that may or may not stir some churning in your stomach. Either way, there are certainly some horrible jerseys that I'm about to present, as well as some that you may have never seen before that deserve mentioning. Of course, all these jerseys have meaning to the teams that have worn them, but some are simply horrendous. Charities have benefitted, but I don't know if my eyes ever will. Let's take a look.

If you want to start at the beginning, there are four other general editions of this series, as well as one solely devoted to one team. If you want to check out some of these, please click on the following: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and the IceCats Exposed. Here is Part Five for your visual enjoyment.

I'll start with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals. They celebrated a Milwaukee Brewers night this season that saw them wear Milwaukee Brewers throwback-inspired jerseys. These are pretty good until I discovered that Milwaukee committed a serious uniform error: the socks don't match the jersey. If the Admirals can go all out with a jersey, why not spend the extra $10 on socks that match?

I've shown the ECHL's Alaska Aces in their New Year's jersey on a past article, but I dug up a better look at that jersey. Very classy with the tuxedo look, and kudos for not adding their logo. The Aces, however, have gone on to celebrate other observances as well. They decided to celebrate Halloween in 2003 with this jersey. This one almost won my affection until I saw the back of the jersey. What's with the corporate name? Was the ECHL once a European League or peewee hockey league?

The Aces were once known as the Anchorage Aces when they played in the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL). The Anchorage Aces celebrated the millenium with this jersey, although I thought the rear font could have been better. The Aces celebrated Halloween in 2001, which aren't great, but not bad. They held a Military Tribute night in 2001, which are decent. They also celebrated Christmas with a jersey in 2002-03. Again, what's with the corporate sellout on the back of the jersey? Kudos to the Aces, though, for altering their logo to reflect the promotions.

The NCAA's Army Black Knights make an appearance on this list after they unveiled a new alternate jersey. I honestly don't have a problem with these jerseys. They look pretty good, and the font is easy to read on the back. The boys at West Point look pretty good in these simple jerseys.

The ECHL's Bakersfield Condors appear again. I don't know how many times I've said it, but enough with the anniversary jerseys. Just put a patch on your jerseys. Bakersfield also celebrated Hollywood with jersey, as well as having a Country Music Night. Bakersfield is in California, so I can understand the stretch with the Hollywood jersey, but why country music? The jerseys themselves are quite flashy, and look alright, though, so they make the grade.

The AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers show up as they celebrated a Military Tribute night this season. This jersey looks alright. However, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders decided that an alternate jersey was needed last season. Now, the Islanders' alternates made them look like skating pylons, so it would be difficult to think that a team could do worse. Except I'm wrong. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the Bridgeport Sound Pylons.

The NHL's Washington Capitals follow San Jose's and Atlanta's lead in coming up with a practice jersey for charity. The Capitals will be auctioning off unique, practice-worn jerseys featuring Athletes Against Autism patches on the front with players’ names and numbers on the back. The back will feature Autism Speaks trademark puzzle piece. The jerseys will be worn during the team’s morning skate on Feb. 20. Great work by the Capitals to raise money for this charity. A big thumbs-up from this writer.

The ECHL's Charlotte Checkers held a NASCAR Race Night promotion that featured this jersey. There's not much I can say except that cross-sport promotions are dumb, and this jersey is ugly. 'Nuff said.

Greece's National Ice Hockey team recently qualified for the Division 3 IIHF World Championships. Did you know they had a team? Me neither. However, they do have some of the most attractive jerseys in the hockey world, in my opinion. Back in 1992, Greece wore these jerseys. They're kind of neat with the ruins, but very simplistic in their design. This past year, Greece skated in these jerseys. I find those jerseys beautiful. I love the image of the Parthenon on the jersey with "Hellas" rising behind it. The colours of Greece's flag make this jersey an excellent design. However, Greece has raised the bar on their jerseys again for 2008. This year, the Greek team will skate in a white version and a blue version of their new jerseys. Excellent design, great look, and one of the best international jerseys to date.

The AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins wore these promotional jerseys for one night before putting them up for auction. I actually like these better than their Detroit Red Wings-themed alternates.

The AHL's Hershey Bears went with Christmas jerseys this season. I'm not convinced these are good jerseys. While I like the Santa hat on the bear in their logo, do they really need to scream "Merry Christmas" on the lower third of the jersey?

The NCAA's Hobart College Statesmen held a Military Tribute Night this season. Not bad, but they either needed a darker green for the camouflage or a different colour. The orange clashes with that shade of green in my view.

The ECHL's Idaho Steelheads went with a few charity-themed jerseys this season. They sported the American Heart Association jerseys. They also held an Athletes Aganist Autism night with their jerseys reflecting the Autism Speaks puzzle pieces. Two very good causes, and two very decent and respectful jerseys. The Steelheads also celebrated the achievement of the Boise State college football team by sporting jerseys that are similar to the college's football uniforms. These are ok, but enough with cross-sport promotions.

The ECHL's Johnstown Chiefs went pink with their jerseys to help with breast cancer research. I can't fault the Chiefs for helping out a good cause, so these jerseys get a thumbs-up.

The OHL's Kitchener Rangers wore some very impressive Remembrance Day jerseys. This is the first Remembrance Day jersey that I've seen that includes a poppy in a logo. Beautiful jersey, Kitchener. Well done!

The ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers appear to be making themselves a fixture on these lists. Let's start with the idiotic: Blue Man Group jersey. This is a complete mockery of a promotional jersey. Next, we have the dumb: Friday the 13th jersey. I suppose this could be worn as a Halloween jersey, but is anyone thinking "sellout"? From there, we have the inexplicable: Hawaiian jersey. Las Vegas wants to celebrate a tropical destination? Are they jealous of Hawaii's tropical climate due to living in desert? What does hockey have to do with Hawaii? On to the charitable: Cancer Research jersey and American Heart Association jersey. A couple of fairly plain jerseys, but both go to help very worthy causes. Finally, we have the good: St. Patrick's Day jersey. This jersey is the best of all the promotions, and might be the best St. Patrick's Day jersey I've seen on any team thus far.

The Central Hockey League's Macon Whoopee have to be mentioned. Despite their logo looking possible like a reference to a drug, the team just had a great name. Macon Whoopee. I love it. They could have had better jerseys, but their name basically is the draw.

The English Ice Hockey League's Manchester Storm used to wear these jerseys before they folded in 2002. The lightning in the logo I understand, but the mask doesn't seem to fit. Also, what's with the big eye on the lower left of the jersey? Is that supposed to be the "eye of the storm"? Could they make they any less clear?

This is Matt Zaba. He has never played for the Dallas Stars. He has suited up for the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads, though. If you notice the small advertisements on his jerseys, you might be able to guess that the Steelheads held a night to honour the Dallas Stars by wearing their jerseys. I don't really find the purpose of this promotion, but at least it made the Double-A club look like their parent NHL affiliate. Thanks to Matt A. for the heads-up!

The AHL's Manchester Monarchs went back to the future by wearing the 1967 Manchester Hawks uniforms for a game this season. These are pretty decent uniforms. They make the grade.

The AHL's Manitoba Moose went with throwback uniforms this season for one night as well. These are pretty decent. The Moose also honoured the gold-medal winning Team Canada World Junior Team by wearing Team Canada-themed jerseys. Like the first version, these jerseys are a great idea.

The Central Hockey League's New Mexico Scorpions held a Military Tribute night, and wore these American flag-inspired jerseys. There not much new to report here. Like a lot of the other flag-inspired tribute jerseys, it looks somewhat the same.

The DEL's Nürnberg Ice Tigers wore this interesting jersey in 2002-03. I chuckled at the "mister+lady+jeans" advertising at the bottom hem, but, being that the German Elite League relies on sponsorship, I suppose this should be expected. However, the giant claw is a different jersey and logo design.

The CHL's Odessa Jackalopes have worn a few promotional jerseys as well. Their Halloween jerseys may make them look like pylons, but full marks for the changing their logo to match the promotion. Their Thanksgiving-themed jerseys were better, and the logo is certainly appropriate.

The AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms have made the list again, and they have a pile of promotions they have done. In 2002, the Phantoms wore Christmas-themed jerseys. Kind of boring, but a nice touch with the Santa hat. In 2003, the Phantoms wore the jerseys of the Philadelphia Firebirds. The Firebirds were a member club of the minor-league North American Hockey League, and featured long-time NHL goalie Rejean Lemelin in net before he jumped to the NHL. The Phantoms celebrated St. Patrick's Day in 2005 and 2006. The 2006 jersey is infinitely better than the extremely boring 2005 version. In 2005, the Phantoms wore the jerseys of the Philadelphia Blazers. The Blazers played one season in the WHA in Philadelphia before moving to Vancouver. However, they did sign such stars as goaltender Bernie Parent and forward Derek Sanderson. The Phantoms also contributed to a charitable cause by wearing jerseys for breast cancer research that were later auctioned off. And the Phantoms added to their promotional legacy by wearing hideous President's Day jerseys this season. Simply hideous.

The CHL's Rocky Mountain Rage continued their promotional jersey ocular assault. The Rage celebrated Mardi Gras last season with a jersey. And they wore a decent St. Patrick's Day jersey as well. Mardi Gras in the Rockies... are you kidding me?

With word of NHL alternate jerseys returning next season, and having up to 18 teams interested in having one, let's hope we never see this baby puke jersey from Nashville again. The one thing that did catch my eye is the "Nashville" under the neckline. Did anyone notice that before?

The CHL's Corpus Christi Rayz make an appearance on this list for four jerseys. First, they had a New Year's Eve and a New Year's Day jersey in 2007. I think it would be pretty cool if a team actually used them for home and away games. The third promotion that the Rayz were involved in was a Harley-Davidson Night. Having seen these before, they aren't that special. However, the fourth jersey was worn for Military Tribute Night. The Rayz donned jerseys for the United Service Organizations in honour of the troops. The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is a private, nonprofit organization that provides morale and recreational services to members of the U.S. military worldwide. A great jersey for a great cause.

The WHL's Prince Albert Raiders went with throwback jerseys on September 13, 2005. These seem quite pastel, and pastels don't work well in a violent sport. While the idea is ok, the jerseys aren't all that great.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins introduced a bold alternate jersey this season. While the Moose throwback jersey resembles it, I like this jersey. And with it being as yellow as it is, it made the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury look like a beacon on the ice during his reconditioning stint following his injury.

The OHL's Windsor Spitfires went back to the future as well as they broke out their 1950 edition of their jersey. These are fabulous jerseys in terms of their look. Classic, simple, and elegant. Thumbs-up on these jerseys. However, the Rbk logo on the socks needs to go. Like now. That's bordering on Euro-hockey advertising.

And finally, we come to the NCAA's Yale Bulldogs whose women's team went completely pink in their support for breast cancer research. Great jerseys for a great cause. My only complain is that they didn't match the socks' pink colour to the jersey. However, I commend all the teams of the ECAC Women's Hockey Division as every team participated in the pink jersey promotion. Well done, ladies!

Ok, so hopefully you haven't expelled a meal with some of these jerseys. Honestly, there are some good ones on there, and a lot of charity ones. As long as teams keep making them, I'll keep featuring them on articles like this.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Friday 22 February 2008

TBC: Cold-Cocked: On Hockey

Teebz's Book Club is proud to present another piece of hockey literature today. This review is a little later than I had anticipated, but the book itself has resonated with me as it draws comparisons with everyday happenings in life with the game of hockey. I am proud to bring to you Lorna Jackson's Cold-Cocked: On Hockey. Miss Jackson is the first female writer to be featured in Teebz's Book Club, but she certainly won't be the last, especially if writers of the fairer sex write as passionately about hockey as Miss Jackson does. While she speaks of all things concerning her life - births, deaths, a wonky knee, some popping ribs, her daughter, her husband, her childhood, and much more - it always ties back into hockey, specifically her passion for the Vancouver Canucks.

Miss Jackson's story is a revealing look at her struggles in life, and how her team struggles on the ice to claim the Stanley Cup. While the two stories interconnect and play off one another, hockey seems to be a prevalent theme in her life. Whether it was watching the Bruins play the Canadiens on Hockey Night In Canada in the 1960s with her father - Sanderson vs. Beliveau - or spending time at Canucks games with her daughter, Miss Jackson has a unique perspective of the game itself.

She is entirely devoted to two Canucks stars in 2002-03 and 2003-04. Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund capture her attention like no else. Trevor Linden gets some lip service. Dan Cloutier and his injury at the end of the 2002-03 season make the story as she relates to his injury. Her daughter, Lily, adores Ed Jovanovski like a schoolgirl crush. All of this adds to the empathy the reader feels as Miss Jackson watches her team rise and fall over the course of a season.

However, it's the writing that really comes through in this book. I'll admit it: I don't read books found on Oprah's Book Club mainly because they are geared for a more feminine audience. NHL writers speak of the Original Six teams and how great they were, harkening us to skate in the skates of Orr, Beliveau, Lafleur, Hull, and Dryden with each word they put on paper. Miss Jackson shatters that pre-conceived idea with one poignant paragraph:

"The NHL machine ignores people like me, women who abhor the easy cliché, the hypermasculine rhetoric. Okay, they build arenas that resemble shopping malls for us. Oh, and kudos, boys, for the ridiculous girlie replica jerseys with the figure-flattering cut and raglan sleeves so we can pretend to have boobs like Shania Twain. I don’t want to be Markus Naslund and I don’t want to shop."

Having suffered through several personal ordeals, Miss Jackson lost interest in hockey. However, the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics re-ignited the passion inside her. Watching grown men cry and bring out their kids and babies while having teammates video-tape them as they received their gold medals changed her outlook on the "warriors" that play the game. She fell in love with hockey again, and became a true fan once more.

If there is anything that this book does, it shifts the perspective of the reader in interpreting the authors as hockey historian to hockey fan. Miss Jackson clearly understand the game as well as anyone else, and realizes that women have always played a large part in the popularity of hockey, stating this in the book.

Her view on the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident is also talked about in the book, and provides a different perspective on the entire ordeal. It is this difference of perspective that should be encouraged and cultivated within the game itself, breaking the ranks of the NHL's "Old Boys Club" to include women of all ages.

Overall, I recommend Cold-Cocked: On Hockey to all hockey fans, specifically because of Miss Jackson's views and commentary on the game. It is an enjoyable read, and has definitely given me a new idea on how to view the game itself. Cold-Cocked: On Hockey by Lorna Jackson has certainly earned the Teebz's Book Club Seal Of Approval, and will be recommended by this author to all hockey fans, both men and women alike!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 21 February 2008

History Made In Chicago

It seems as though the history between the AHL's Manitoba Moose and Chicago Wolves gets a little more storied everytime these two franchises square off. Whether it be an individual's performance, a playoff battle, or a war on the ice, these two teams have been creating highlights and history since their time in the now-defunct International Hockey League. Last night at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, another chapter was written into the history books between these two clubs, and it is one that might make blooper reels for a while.

In the middle frame with the score tied at zero, Pierre-Cedric Labrie scored for the first time in 36 games to open the scoring for the Moose. Bryan Little responded for the Wolves minutes later to tie the game. Kevin Bieksa, on a reconditioning assignment for the Canucks, recorded an assist on Labrie's goal, and looked as though he hadn't missed any time with a lacerated calf muscle. His conditioning stint lasted only one night as the Canucks recalled him immediately after the game for their Thursday night game in Nashville.

The teams remained tied through the third period at one goal apiece, which means that overtime and possibly a shootout would be needed to find a winner. Well, the game did end in overtime by the most unlikely of players to score the winner.

Moose forward Jason Jaffray had been singled out by referee Ryan Fraser for hooking, and allowed the play to continue with the delayed penalty awaiting a Manitoba player to touch the puck. Chicago goalie Ondrej Pavelec went to the bench for the extra attacker, and the Wolves played five-on-four. Steve Martins got the puck along the left wing boards, and flipped a pass back to the point.

However, the pass was never received by anyone, and the puck slid the length of the ice into the yawning Chicago cage, giving Manitoba the 2-1 overtime victory. And the goal scorer? Manitoba Moose goaltender Drew MacIntyre.

MacIntyre became the ninth goaltender to record a goal in the AHL, and only the second goaltender to record an overtime game-winner. By rule, he was the last Moose player to touch the puck before it went into the net, so he received credit. The goal was originally credited to defenceman Danny Groulx, but was later changed to MacIntyre.

"It could have hit the knob of my stick, I don't know," MacIntyre said to Winnipeg Free Press reporter, Gary Lawless. "If it is mine, that's pretty cool. I'll take it. That's the bounces I guess."

Let's go to the video for this goal.

AHL Goals Scored by a Goaltender:
Darcy Wakaluk, Rochester Americans - Dec. 5, 1987 at Utica
Paul Cohen, Springfield Indians - Mar. 28, 1992 vs. Rochester
Robb Stauber, Rochester Americans - Oct. 9, 1995 at Prince Edward Island
Christian Bronsard, Syracuse Crunch - Oct. 30, 1999 at Rochester
Jean-Francois Labbe, Hartford Wolf Pack - Feb. 5, 2000 at Quebec
Chris Mason, Milwaukee Admirals - Oct. 15, 2001 at Utah
Antero Niittymaki, Philadelphia Phantoms - Apr. 11, 2004 at Hershey*
Seamus Kotyk, Milwaukee Admirals - Apr. 17, 2005 at San Antonio
Drew MacIntyre, Manitoba Moose - Feb. 20, 2008 at Chicago

*Niittymaki also scored in overtime.

The Moose continue their road trip with a trip to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids where they'll meet the Griffins and Darren McCarty. This should be another great game between former IHL foes.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday 19 February 2008

Gone Too Soon

While I may be late with this article, my heartfelt wishes go out to the family, friends, and teammates of Mickey Renaud. Mickey Renaud was the captain of the OHL's Windsor Spitfires. Tragically, the 19 year-old collapsed at his home in Tecumseh, Ontario and passed away on Monday. The fifth-round pick for the Calgary Flames passed away far too early for this to be anything but tragic. Hockey Blog In Canada extends its deepest condolences to all whose lives had been blessed by Mickey Renaud. His life is not one that will be forgotten.

The 6'3", 220-pound Renaud, who was drafted 143rd overall by the Flames last season, had 41 points in 56 games with the Spitfires this season. He was a leader in the dressing room and on the ice, and his team was looking poised to make a run at a Memorial Cup berth. Instead, the Windsor Spitfires will spend the next week grieving the loss of a teammate, a friend, and a family member.

"When I think of Mickey, I look at that big goofy smile of his, every day looking to come to the rink, looking to make somebody's life a little bit better," Tom Webster said to the Canadian Press. Webster is a scout for the NHL's Calgary Flames, which drafted Renaud last year. "The hockey community is going to miss a very good person."

"His teachers loved him. His teammates loved him. His friends loved him," said Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel, fighting back tears. "My dad remembers when he used to peek his head over the skate shop to get his skates sharpened in this building. He was only just a little guy."

"He's our leader," Rychel added. "He's the biggest, healthiest kid. For something like this to suddenly happen is truly a tragedy."

"Words can't describe what Mickey meant to us as a coaching staff, as an ownership group and as a player amongst the rest of our players," head coach Bob Boughner said.

Clearly, the young man was as important to the community he played in as much as he was to the team he played for. Renaud was a popular player who would join others at various events around the community: reading to children at the public library or playing road hockey during the offseason. As a tribute, all OHL players will wear a #18 sticker on their helmets to commemorate Mickey Renaud's achievements and accomplishments. The Spitfires, in addition to the sticker, will have a special patch on their jerseys for their captain. All, however, will miss the young man.

"He's going to be missed dearly by all of us, and that's the suffering everybody is going through," Tom Webster said.

The Oshawa Generals received word on Monday about Renaud's passing as the news made its way throughout the country. The shock of losing such a young man with a bright future did not go unnoticed by their club.

"Whether they knew Mickey, or didn't, when it's a peer, it hits home," said Generals head coach Chris DePiero. "This was a player that has the same aspirations that a lot of ours have. I don't want to sound cliché like, but it's stuff like that where people sit back and really identify what is important in life."

However, word had already gotten to the Generals' dressing room where several players who knew Renaud got the news.

"Word had gotten out because Ryan Baldwin and Jonathan Sciacca had both played with Mickey in Windsor. Jonathan actually grew up with Mickey," explained DePiero. "When they got back into the room and checked their messages and stuff, people had been trying to get a hold of them to tell them."

Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter, the man who drafted Renaud last season, was clearly shaken by the loss of one of his players.

"Take the hockey out of it, all of us are parents... we all know how we'd feel about this," said Sutter, who was choked up to hear of Renaud's passing while the 19-year-old was sitting down to eat at his parent's house in Tecumseh, a suburb of Windsor, Ont.

"You come to these meetings and everybody's talking about who's going where, and it really puts things into perspective, talking about kids. My boy Brett roomed with Mickey at our rookie camp. Brett's only 20. You hang out at camp as kids and that's a bond that never goes away."

Sutter had plans to head to Dallas, but changed his plans to be in Windsor without hesitation. Sutter will be in Windsor to grieve with the Spitfires' family, and will undoubtedly attend Renaud's funeral on Friday.

"I first met Mickey at the draft last June and the thing that I noticed was his energy and how much he enjoyed everything that was going on. Then when he got onto the ice with us, he struck me as an old-school type guy. He was a balls-out, play hard against the other team's best players guy. To be captain at 18 in junior, tells you something about his character," said Sutter.

I never met Mickey Renaud, but I would have been honoured to have met him, even if just for a split second. It sounds like he was a great person to have as a friend, teammate, and family member, and from everything everyone has said, he sounds like he was a joy to be around.

Rest in peace, Mickey Renaud. Your time came far too soon. The frozen pond in heaven will always have room for you.

Along with the passing of Mickey Renaud came the loss of another hockey player, although not as young. Bill "The Beast" Juzda, a former NHL defenceman, passed away at the age of 87 at his home in Winnipeg today.

"The Beast" played for the New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs during his NHL career. The 5'9", 200-pound Juzda played 398 NHL games, collecting 14 goals and 54 assists while posting 398 PIMs. Juzda started his career in New York City, and, after playing five seasons with the Broadway Blueshirts, was traded to the Maple Leafs in an eight-player trade on April 26, 1948.

In Toronto, Juzda won his first Stanley Cup in 1948 with the Maple Leafs when they defeated the Red Wings in four straight games. The bruising defenceman threw his weight around like he owned Maple Leaf Gardens.

The Maple Leafs won another Stanley Cup, Juzda's second, in 1951 when Bill Barilko scored at 2:53 of overtime in Game Five to clinch the Stanley Cup. Juzda was on the ice during Barilko's goal, and was remembered for his series-long battle with Maurice "The Rocket" Richard. He will be especially remembered for a hipcheck on Maurice Richard that caused the Montreal star to flip head over heels, causing The Rocket's skates to hit the glass and shatter it.

Juzda spent the offseasons fulfilling another dream of his: he was a locomotive engineer for the Canadian Pacific Railway. This job earned him another nickname in "The Honest Brakeman". Juzda was also enlisted as a pilot in 1941 for the Canadian Air Force, and fought in World War 2 briefly.

Rest in peace, Mr. Juzda. You certainly have led a full life, and deserve a peaceful rest. You also won't be forgotten.

That's all for today, folks. I have a couple of things I'm working on in the next couple of days, so I'll have those posted this week.

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice, and remember these two special players!

Monday 18 February 2008

An Oshawa Injustice

As I get caught up after our weekend of insanity known as "league playoffs", I am shocked to find out that the Oshawa Generals will be honouring Eric Lindros in a retirement ceremony on March 6, 2008 by raising his #88 to the rafters of General Motors Place. Eric starred for the OHL's Generals from 1989 until 1992 before he was drafted first overall by the Quebec Nordiques in 1991. Of course, the rest is NHL history. His #88 will join Red Tilson's #9 as the only two numbers in Oshawa Generals' history to have been officially retired. And therein lies the rub. How is it that a guy like Lindros can have his jersey retired before arguably the greatest defenceman of all-time in Bobby Orr?

Look, Lindros put up phenomenal numbers as a junior hockey player in the OHL. In 95 OHL games, Eric Lindros scored 97 goals and 119 assists for 216 points. He averaged 2.27 points per game, and was the most dominant junior player of his time. Of this, there is no argument. He led the Oshawa Generals to the 1990 Memorial Cup. He was a force to be reckoned with in junior hockey, and he looked like a future NHL great. It could be said that Lindros was the new power forward with his size and scoring prowess, taking over from such greats as Cam Neely and Phil Esposito.

But what about the man who revolutionized an entire position? Bobby Orr changed the way defencemen played the game. Players such as Scott Niedermayer, Paul Coffey, and Phil Housley were essentially following Bobby Orr's lead in being excellent offensive defencemen.

Bobby Orr's junior numbers were excellent as well. In 159 games with the Generals, Bobby Orr scored 101 goals and 158 assists for 259 points as a defenceman. Orr averaged 1.63 points per game as a defenceman. While I am not making a case of "who's better than whom", it is clear that the Oshawa Generals seem to be missing a familiar number hanging from their rafters.

This has nothing to do with their NHL numbers or NHL contributions. This examination of both men's careers is simply a look at their junior careers only. Their NHL contributions alone have shaped the NHL in significant ways.

The game in Oshawa on March 6 will undoubtedly sell out fast. The Generals play the St. Michael's Majors, and the crowd will be large to see one of Oshawa's favourite sons have his jersey retired. The Oshawa Generals' website even states, "[h]e won the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s MVP and will go down in history as one of the greatest Generals of all times". I'm sure TSN and Rogers Sportsnet will have coverage of the event, and the NHLPA's Ombudsman will be there to watch his jersey hoisted to the ceiling.

My only question is when will Oshawa do the same for the man many consider the one of greatest hockey players of all-time, and arguably the best defenceman the game of hockey has ever seen? This seems to be an all-time great injustice.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Saturday 16 February 2008

Playoff Weekend

My entire weekend is being occupied by our league's playoff weekend. Ok, so we're not playing for the Stanley Cup, but it's still a point of pride. We played last night, and things will continue today. In that regard, I don't really have much to write about due to my already-hectic schedule. However, I did get a chance to watch the Kings beat the Flames last night in Los Angeles, and I have to say that I am impressed with the Kings' young players. We know about Cammalleri, Frolov, and Kopitar, but it appears that Dean Lombardi and Dave Taylor, the former Kings' GM, knew what they were doing in trading for, drafting, and signing some of these great young players.

First, the goal last night by Teddy Purcell was pretty nice. Purcell played for the Maine Black Bears in the NCAA. An interesting fact from his college days is that he lost six teeth when he was hit in the face by a skate. However, Teddy perservered and is now starring for the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. He's been called up to the Kings a few times this season, collecting his first NHL point against Anaheim with an assist on a Derek Armstrong goal, and collected his first NHL goal against Miikka Kiprusoff last night. He was named the game's MVP during this year's AHL All-Star Game, so he appears to be on the way up. The 6'3" forward looks like he could be a major contributor for the Kings in upcoming seasons.

Brian Boyle also scored his fourth goal of the season last night. The 6'7" centreman was the Kings' second pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft at 26th overall. TSN projects him to be a third-line centreman, but he looks like he has so much more to offer. He skates well, he throws big hits, he's very effective in his own end, and he scores goals. The Boston College grad led his NCAA team in scoring in 2006-07 with 53 points, and he occasionally played defence for Boston College at times. Honestly, he appears he be the prototypical power forward, and looks like he could be a Cam Neely-type of player. Boyle has tremendous upside, and looks like he fits in the Kings lineup this season.

Jack Johnson, a blue-chip defenceman drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes, was acquired at the start of the 2006-07 season along with Oleg Tverdovsky for Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger. Johnson was a high-flying offensive defenceman the Michigan Wolverines before he made the jump to the NHL. Johnson was also known for some of the big hits he delivered. Johnson has a pile of NHL experience at this point, but it has become apparent that defencemen need additional time to round into form as an NHL player. Johnson has looked good this season as he has been mentored by Kings' defenceman Rob Blake, and he has certainly appeared more comfortable. He only has nine points thus far, but he appears very comfortable in his own end this season, and looks to be the replacement for the aging Blake for many years to come.

The last guy who never seems to get the credit he's due is winger Matt Moulson. The Cornell University player was a solid played in the NCAA, never scoring less than 23 points in a season. He works hard, and plays bigger than 6'1" frame looks. Drafted by Pittsburgh in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Moulson was signed by the Kings in September of 2006 and assigned to Manchester. In 77 games with the AHL's Monarchs last season, Moulson recorded 25 goals and 32 assists while posting an impressive +26 plus-minus rating. Defensively, Moulson is very sound, and he knows how to score. In 22 games with the Kings this season, Moulson has five goals and four assists, and should be considered for a full-time roster spot next season. Although he didn't play last night, my opinion is that he would be a benefit in the Kings' lineup rather than some of other players the Kings are using this season.

If this sounds familiar, the Kings appear to be building through youth, and remind me of the Pittsburgh Penguins in their strategy. The Kings drafted goalie Jonathan Bernier from the Lewiston Maineiacs last season, and he's honing his skills in the QMJHL again this season much like Marc-Andre Fleury did with the Penguins. They have solid, developing youngsters which contribute and should allow the Kings to build upon. While they may be last in the NHL this season, drafting one of Drew Doughty or Steven Stamkos will only help their cause in further seasons.

The Kings are a team with vast potential, and I'd say a last-place finish next season would be nearly impossible.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Thursday 14 February 2008

Hockey Blog On Valentine's Day

Well, another Retail Shopping Day is here, which means we're observing another day where people are forced to spend money on their loved ones when they should really be spending more time with them. Am I bitter? No. I'm just making some quaint observances towards Valentine's Day. If you're single, like I am, this day is better known as February 14. In any case, I thought it would be a good idea to help you pick up some last minute hockey gifts for that special Valentine. Some of these gifts would be something I'd appreciate, but others bring to mind several curse words and disbelief.

First off, I'll start with Things Not To Buy For Anyone.

1. Little Earth Pittsburgh Penguins Fender Flair Purse from the store. This purse carries this description: "You can add hockey design to your wardrobe and carry all of your money and personal belongings in this Little Earth NHL® team Fender Flair purse. The purse is formed from 2 recycled aluminum license plates with tear-shaped, nickel-plated steel end caps and hundreds of Swarovski crystals. The officially licensed purse has a velvet lining with pocket and a 21-in leather strap with contrast stitching for easy carrying." Available in all teams.

Sounds great, right? Well, go get a second mortgage because it costs $324.99! Seriously! I could make this! All I need is a couple of vanity license plates and a soldering gun!

2. Pink Fashion Jerseys from the store. The product description makes me hate these more: "Cute and sporty is how you will look wearing this blank or customized Rbk® women's Pink Freeze jersey. It's made of premier polyester fabric for maximum comfort and boasts a modern design that accentuates your shape. The jersey is screen-printed with glitter gel graphics and will feature a heat-transferred name and number if you decide to customize." Available in all teams.

Pink for cancer research? Yes, I can live with that. Pink for fashion? NO! At $59.99, I can understand getting your Valentine into a hockey jersey that looks like this, especially if your Valentine is a girl. However, be prepared to be mocked at every turn thanks to your stupidity in buying a pink NHL jersey. If you're a real fan, you wear team colours. Show you care: make your Valentine a real fan of your NHL team.

3. NHL Garters. I've posted these before, but this might be the most inappropriate way to show your support of your team. If your girlfriend wears garters, good for her. However, if she's showing them to you, you're probably not watching hockey. Or even thinking about hockey. Avoid this type of gift, especially if your girl isn't a hockey fan. Unless you want to sleep on the couch for a while.

Ok, let's look at good ideas for gifts.

1. Hockey Night In Canada DVD Trivia Game from the store. Much like the Scene-It games, this gift would be perfect for sharing some time together. It can be used as an introduction to the game for the most novice of hockey fans. It will challenge the most knowledgeable of hockey historians. The best part is that the game can be played together. And "together" is the perfect Valentine's Day situation.

2. Fresh Gear. I've spoken about the scent of hockey equipment before, and we all know it's brutal. Both male and female hockey players fight the stench. If your Valentine has his or her hockey equipment in a room where the paint is starting peel off the walls, get them some Fresh Gear treatments. You can find locations here, and it all it takes is about 20 minutes to make the equipment smell not-so-bad. This might be the best gift you can give to your Valentine AND to yourself.

3. Hockey Books and Movies. I've reviewed a number of books through Teebz's Book Club, so you should have an idea that there are a lot of good hockey books out there. Please check the information under Teebz's Book Club to the right for more info on some hockey literature. As for movies, it would depend on genre, but here are a few good flicks:
- Comedy: Slapshot, Happy Gilmore
- Drama: The Rocket, Mystery, Alaska
- Family: The Mighty Ducks (avoid the sequels)
- Great Hockey Moments: Strange Brew, Bon Cop Bad Cop, Mallrats, Clerks

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Take care, and snuggle up to someone!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!